As many of you know, I am a basketball fan—especially of the NBA. It probably comes as no surprise to you that, as time permits, I have been watching the play-offs this past month. Our hometown Bucks are still playing as I write this letter, which adds to the excitement!
One thing that my husband, Steve, and I have noticed as we watch, is what a variety of people gather for the games and how unabashedly they cheer for their teams. People of different races, incomes, religions, countries of origin—all in one place, having fun as they jump around and yell and try to will their teams to victory!
It gives me hope that such a variety of people can come together and enjoy one another as they share a common goal. It makes me think that as we try, in other areas of life, to bring people together, maybe we need to stop looking at each other and instead, find a way to look outward together.
In our congregation, one of the things that has kept us alive and strong for so many years is the way we have stood together looking outward at what we can do together to live toward the Kingdom of God that Jesus embodied and pointed toward.
And we have not done this alone. For nearly 30 years, we have done this with our partners from Reformation, a congregation in the heart of the city of Milwaukee. As I reflect on this partnership, it seems to me that when it has been strongest is when we have not so much looked at each other, but joined together looking outward, focused on a particular ministry.
Together, our youth and adults worked in Reformation’s neighborhood—their holy ground-- cleaning up the lots of local businesses, helping elderly folks with their yard work, planting flowers. We came to know one another as we picked up garbage, raked leaves, took water breaks.
Preparing and serving and eating meals together has also been a powerful way of coming together over the years, whether it was through Friday night community meals, weekday community meals, serving at Serenity Inns or sharing a potluck meal at either of our congregations. A lot of our shared joy and memories center around such meals.
Opportunities to share our faith have also been powerful: I think of open prayer time at Digging and Dining in the summer, the vulnerability of so many as we shared our stories at Saturday Women’s Group, Thursday Community bible studies at Reformation, our youth gathering at each other’s congregations for Education Night.
All of these ministry opportunities brought us together focused on that particular ministry. Our differences were very secondary to what we were doing together. We came to know and love one another through such opportunities.
Currently, we have a group of people from our two congregations who are meeting together to explore what particular shapes our partnership might take in the near future. This partnership is a living thing, and so it changes over time—all living things do!
Perhaps a lesson to take from our shared past—and even from basketball fans—is to find ways to look outward together. If the ministry opportunities catch our imagination and engage our passions, we will find our selves working and cheering madly together as we glimpse the victory that Jesus Christ has and will win!
With great hope and anticipation, I look forward to working together with you, my brothers and sisters in Christ at Resurrection and Reformation!